Monday, 8 June 2020

Earthquakes and Pandemics

I've been thinking a lot lately about the differences and similarities between the earthquakes and this pandemic. There seem to be a lot of things that remind me of back in 2011 and I'm sure that many people that live in Christchurch can say the same. I thought I'd write a few of these down to try and make some sense of the madness.
I've split this into 3 sections to try and make some sense of it - things that were only earthquake related or pandemic related and then just some things I have though about that relate to both.


For me, the earthquakes were a really difficult time. I  was in the centre of town when the first big one struck and the noise, visions and chaos still remain with me, even after counselling and support. It took a long time to feel comfortable and even now I still feel strong emotions when even a small one hits. Earthquakes are unusual as we have absolutely no control over anything to do with them. We can't stop one, we can't remove ourselves from them (apart from going somewhere that doesn't have them), and there is no warning. My balance was so bad I spent time at Burwood getting back to being able to walk around without holding onto things. I struggled to go back into many buildings and even now I find myself holding bannisters and not going to some places 'just in case'.
We were without electricity, water, and many portaloos adorned the streets for a long time.
There were many lessons the earthquakes taught us about sharing. Schools were site sharing, with my children going to school from 7am until lunchtime then another school starting on the same site at 1. Businesses shared sites, people stayed with us while houses were being fixed, we helped neighbours dig out the silt from liquifaction - it was a time of community - we helped others and they helped us. Many people are still struggling through claims for damage and there are areas that are still recovering. Buildings are still being torn down and rebuilt and this will continue for some time to come.
The earthquakes only really affected us in Christchurch. The rest of the country mainly didn't have the knowledge of what it was like - all very easy to say you poor things, but they didn't have the experience of what it really was like being her through all of those aftershocks and how much is took it's toll.


Covid-19 has shaken the whole world. In complete opposition to the earthquakes we have been forced into isolation and we are not gathering together to offer support. We are happy to be in our own little bubble and we are far more aware of our surroundings, hyper aware sometimes of who is near us and where we go. We have an app to trace our movements and we are monitoring who we see. We have control over where we go and who we see (although there were restrictions, we could still choose who was in our bubble).
Everyone is in the same boat. We all understand, we all 'get it'. We have changed our habits to cater for this lack of engagement with others and are doing more online shopping.
Schools have been changing to online learning and we are adapting to the new normal. In a short time we will be at Level 1 - almost back to where we were, and we have been very lucky in this country to not have had more deaths.


Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs - I think this is really relevant for both of these events. If you look at what we had and didn't have, it shows how difficult those earthquakes were. The safety and physiological sections were severely damaged in the quakes, whereas the pandemic has been more about the safety and belonging.

Businesses in both of these have suffered. I remember walking through the centre of Christchurch a few months after the big quake in February 2011 and seeing cafe tables with the food and drink still sitting on them. Some never to go back in before it was demolished. But they got back up and the container mall was invented - a great bit of kiwi ingenuity. Hopefully we will get back up and running soon. We need to make sure more local businesses are getting our support and those that can are helping to get the economy back up and on its feet.

Neither the earthquakes or the pandemic have been easy to live through but we do get there. Eventually things move forward and although sometimes it's hard, we do embrace the changes. There will always be change and you can guarantee something else will come along eventually to make us change again. I think this links in well to my previous blog - what kind of future can you imagine? What's next?

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